I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the concept of subtext. (For those of you under 25, no that’s not texting under the table) Our society has never been one for subtlety, but I think that lately we’ve entered a whole new era of in-your-face advertisements and messages. We are now seeing political candidates summing up their entire platforms in 140 characters or less. Clearly nuance is becoming a lost art.
It’s no surprise to me then that absolutely no one has made a big deal at all about the “Faculty Lounge” here at the Turret of Teleology. (Finding new alliterations for my school is getting harder, I had to really reach for this one) The faculty lounge has long been a perk of teaching. It is both an inner sanctum for the intellectual elite to gather and debate the mysteries of the world and a terrifying void in the consciousness of the students.
Our lounge is almost always empty and even when it is entered, teachers only do so with regret and a sense of shame-filled depression. The lounge is one of only a handful of rooms in the school without a window of any kind; it is lit solely by a bank of ancient flickering flourescent tubes that calls to mind the opening scene from that epic tale “Joe vs the Volcano.” Besides the lighting, there are folding tables and plastic chairs which manage to clearly communicate the idea that you can sit on them, but you won’t enjoy it remarkably well without ever saying a word. Tilted sullenly against one wall is the snack machine, which spends 20 days out of every month completely empty except for the potato skins. Next to this is the soda machine, which despite having 8 buttons, only carries 3 different kinds of soft drinks.
The crown jewel of our lounge is the fact that it has two bathrooms in it. The lounge isn’t really big enough to allow people to sit comfortably far enough away from the bathrooms in the event that they are occupied, so everyone will get to hear exactly how much dairy you had while they are trying to eat lunch or talk about their children. When the toilets are actually flushed, they are so loud that it actually renders speech impossible for the entire minute that they are running, even if the door is closed.
It’s not like there aren’t other rooms in the school that could be used for a teacher’s lounge. The room where we house the delinquents, for example, has an entire wall of windows which look out on some fairly nice bits of the campus. I suppose the idea is that if we switched the rooms and put those students into the windowless cell that is the current lounge, then they might feel like they were being punished for their misbehavior and who knows what that would do to their self-esteem?
This is not some random oversight on the part of our Fearless Leaders. The design and placement of everything in our faculty lounge has been carefully orchestrated for maximum subtext. Fearless Leaders know that any time the Minions are allowed to gather in small numbers, they begin to foment rebellion. The next thing you know, they’ll be making outrageous demands like bagels with some low-fat cream cheese and a soda machine that has Diet Mountain Dew (I mean, are we war criminals or something?!). Once teachers start making these demands, where will it end? Just imagine what they might start asking for; jobs, livable wages, respect? It’s an extremely slippery slope.